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Opinions of Sunday, 4 December 2016

Columnist: Goldwater, Adam

Peaceful elections: The spiritual implication of voting

By Adams Goldwater

On December 7th 2016, Ghanaians will once again have the opportunity to elect a President and Parliamentarians to steer the affairs of the nation for another term of four years. Right from the beginning of this year, there have been incessant calls from well-meaning Ghanaians for free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.

Ghanaians on their own volition, collectively agreed to put their faith and trust in the democratic process of freely choosing their preferred political candidates to govern the country. However, this simple process of queuing to vote often results in violence and mayhem with unimaginable consequences of loss of precious lives and properties.

Why does this time- tested universally accepted democratic process spiral into violence and mayhem? A number of factors have been adduced for electoral violence in Africa and these include the use of “macho men” (strongly built men) by political parties to intimidate opponents and sometimes to snatch away ballot boxes, ethnicity, political party animosity, greed, poverty, bribery, the winner takes all syndrome, vote buying, registration of minors to vote and what have you.

Indeed, it is well and good to admonish Ghanaians to cherish peace at all times more particularly during general elections but these appeals have not prevented the threat or occurrence of at least minor election violence in many parts of the country.

Even the recent re-registration and voter transfer exercises witnessed some ugly skirmishes among supporters of political parties in some parts of the country, raising the specter of possible election violence in the forth coming polls. Politicians and their “do and die “supporters have the inordinate desire to win elections at all cost and often ignore appeals for decorum, tolerance and circumspection in their political discourses.

If we all, especially the politicians resolve not to cheat, we shall without doubt record violence free elections. Fortunately for us, majority of Ghanaians are religious and seemingly God fearing and should not condone violence in any form. Instilling the” fear of the Lord “in our worldly dealings should curb our appetite for cheating, stealing, falsehood and ultimately violence and mayhem.

This article is designed to admonish and remind all Ghanaians that voting is a sacred duty and it is incumbent on all believers (Christians and Muslims) to vote for persons who are deserving, honest and uphold the principles of justice, truth and probity and can impact lives positively. In the scripture, Allah says “O ye who believe, stand up firmly for justice as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, parents, kin or kith, rich or poor” (Quran 4:135).

Justice is God’s attribute and is the responsibility of all to stand firm as witnesses for justice even if against one’s interest or the interest of those who are near and dear to us. Corollary, to willfully decline to do justice in any endeavour is a grave sin and should be avoided at all cost.

For instance, checking and marking students’ examination papers is an act of witnessing or testifying. If any decrease or increase in the marks is knowingly or carelessly done, that becomes false evidence, which is unlawful and a sin. Certificates and testimonials awarded to successfully graduating students bear witness that the awardee indeed deserve the certificate.

But if the certificate holder truly doesn’t deserve the award, then all those who connived in the award of the certificate or testimonial bear false attestation and have sinned against the Lord. In the case of voting, casting a vote for a candidate seeking elections to any Public office be it President, Parliamentarian, member of the Assemblies or any public institution, is a testimony in which the voter bears witness that in his or her estimation the particular candidate is worthy of becoming a representative of the institution in terms of ability and merit and in terms of his honesty and trustworthiness as well.

If the voter is fully aware that the candidate he or she is voting for is for instance corrupt, dishonest and untrustworthy and he or she goes ahead to vote for the said person, the curse and punishment of Allah is on the voter for false witnessing. The Lord says “ Thou shall not make false testimony “. However, many doubting Thomas’s dismiss this preposition by erroneously arguing that politics is just a game and has no spiritual or eternal connotation or condemnation.

But the scriptures remind us that every action that we take on earth however minute, is recorded in the Book of Deeds/Life and has its eternal consequence of either reward or punishment. Jesus is quoted as saying that what you sow is what you reap and that good earns good while evil begets evil. If you vote a dishonest and an ineffective person into office, you will reap poverty, tears and despondency while the person you elect will be swimming in opulence and luxury.

We conclude by admonishing all believing Christians and Muslims that voting people into public office is a sacred duty and we must honour God by voting for persons we attest are deserving, honest, competent and above reproach. We should not vote candidates only on the basis of ethnicity, chieftaincy, friendship, religious affiliation, monetary and other ill considerations. Let those who believe listen and obey the word of the Lord.

Haj Gold Ministry, Takoradi